Ask Massively: What's with all the WoW hate?

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Ask Massively: What's with all the WoW hate?
Today's Ask Massively question comes from Kirk because he wanted to open up a can of worms all over the column apparently.
Why do people have to hate on World of Warcraft so much? I quit playing WoW about two years ago and never looked back, but that game encompassed the best gaming experience of my life! Now everyone wants to say its crap. But I have roamed the landscape without a real home for gaming; nothing has ever been as much fun as WoW. What person who plays MMOs didn't play Warcraft? How many of us had a great time in that game at some point? Can't we just leave it at that? I look back and admire a game that brought even my wife to the MMO table! I have no hate, just love for a game that I no longer play, and I think that's OK. Can we all move on now? What is the hold up? Let people who play WoW play WoW, and everyone else can play the game of his or her choice. Why does every chat panel in every game need to have the WoW topic constantly flowing through its veins? Honestly, I'm tired of it. Let's move on already!
Because hating is fun! No, wait, that's true, but there's so much more to it than that.

Validation: People want to feel better about moving on from old games, especially games that had a big impact on their lives and friendships at one point in time. They don't want to think too hard about characters or guildies they left behind; they don't want to imagine that the game went on without them and that other folks are still having a blast or that they might be missing out on something fun. In order to validate their choice to quit, they will convince themselves that the game is terrible, was always terrible, and can never be worth returning to. Then they have to convince everyone else. Loudly.

Identity: Some players stake their gamer identities on the types of games they play. They might have liked Vanilla WoW back when it was "old-school" and "hardcore," but now it's gone all "accessible" and "easymode" -- even your wife likes it, and ewwww girls, right? So if your self-worth rests on your rejection of perceived casual gameplay (whether it actually is casual or not) and perceived non-hardcore playerbase (often read as not-young-men), you're going to bash WoW specifically to elevate yourself as some sort of elite gaming hipster who's above the lure of a game for the masses. Related to the people who hate popular things because they are popular: the people who hate old things because they are old.

Resentment: Some folks blame World of Warcraft for all of the industry's woes. As a sandbox fan, I can often see where this type is coming from. WoW changed the MMOscape in a huge way and made it difficult until fairly recently for studios to break from that 2004 template and still see publishing and financial success. If you liked pre-WoW, non-themepark games, you've been out of luck for a long time, and it's hard not to resent the game because of it, even if you know it's not wholly responsible and even when you know you're neglecting all the impressive contributions WoW has made to the genre along the way.

Jealousy: Some people are honestly jealous of World of Warcraft's continuing success and wrongly believe that bashing a strong game will make weaker games look better by comparison. It doesn't work that way, but we see it for all sorts of games in comment sections every day. Massively's Justin Olivetti points out that frustration can often seem like jealousy too -- sometimes gamers are just stumped about why a game is so popular and become increasingly frustrated by what they see as misplaced popularity (League of Angels comes to mind).

Boredom: Those trolls in the chat channels of your new game, the ones yammering about WoW and debating game mechanics, are doing so because they're bored, because they want to establish their street cred among people who don't know them well enough to call them on their bull, and because they like attention. They may not even really hate WoW; they may not even have played it since 2005. They just like to hear themselves talk.

Grievances: There will always be players with grievances of varying legitimacy, like "Blizzard stole my Shaman's totems" or "my spouse left me because of my WoW addiction" or "I refuse to play a game that charges me to rescue myself from a dead server." You won't see most of those folks trolling up comment threads, though they might issue a well-reasoned explanation from time to time, and you won't see them wasting time spamming up chat in a new game complaining about something they'd rather forget about. They, like you, would rather move on, really move on, and chase new fun elsewhere, which is why they're in a new game in the first place.

Kirk, you have a healthy outlook on MMORPGs. Not everyone is going to like the same games. Not everyone needs to. People will move on digitally and physically; so should they move on mentally. We don't need to hate WoW to love other games. It's petty and pointless and it gets in the way of far more interesting debate about the quality of games and the industry.

What should you play? Where is the MMO industry headed? How does Massively operate? Has Lord British lost his marbles? Why is the edit button on a timer? Should "monoclegate" be hyphenated? Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce submits to your interrogations right here in Ask Massively every other Friday. Drop your questions in the comments below or ping us at Just ask!
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